This Week on the Hill: New Graham-Cassidy Draft Boosts Funding to States of Skeptic Senators; House Returns to MIECHV Reauthorization, FAA Stopgap

September 25, 2017

The last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) led by Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will take center-stage this week as Republican leaders try to beat the expiration of the 2017 fiscal year reconciliation instructions that allow for a bill to pass in the Senate on a simple majority vote rather than the typical 60 votes required of major legislation. A new draft of the bill (text) was released last night, including additional federal funding for the states of Alaska, Arizona, Maine, and Kentucky — home to four of the bill’s key skeptics in Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John McCain (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Rand Paul (R-KY). The new draft also rolls back more federal regulations regarding the health insurance industry, which is likely a nod to conservative senators Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT). It is unclear whether the changes will be enough to convince all but two Republicans to vote in favor — especially considering the accelerated timeline — but it appears that all systems are go for a final push.

In terms of process, the Senate reconvenes today and only has a confirmation vote — William Emanuel to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) — on its official floor schedule. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its abbreviated analysis of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, only confirming that it will provide the savings necessary to be approved under the budget reconciliation process. Despite concerns on the lack of data from Democrats and some moderate Republicans, a full score of the bill will not be completed before the legislation hits the floor this week. As soon as tomorrow, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to raise the legislation as an amendment to the underlying House reconciliation bill, immediately triggering a vote-a-rama that could go on for multiple days. Similar to past efforts, it will be a fluid process and a final whip count may not be known until voting starts.

The House also returns from their weeklong break today, and while they’ll be paying close attention to what happens on the north side of Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has prepared a full docket of legislation to clear on the chamber floor. Specifically, lawmakers have teed up a controversial measure (H.R. 2792) that would revoke Social Security payments for those with an outstanding arrest warrant or parole violation and legislation (H.R. 2824) that would reauthorize the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) through the 2022 fiscal year. Despite bipartisan support for the nature of the program, the two sides are split on the amount of federal support that should be provided.

Off the floor, tax reform proponents will be eagerly awaiting promised details from the Republican “Big Six” this week as the group sets out to begin to shape comprehensive tax reform legislation. Observers are expecting a framework that will include a 20 percent corporate rate and a top individual rate of 35 percent, but few specific provisions are going to be set in stone as Republicans try to balance the ‘winners and losers’ of any tax legislation.

With the fiscal year ending on Saturday, the House may push additional suspension bills that would provide temporary relief for other programs that need a reauthorization for the 2018 fiscal year. The first of those suspension bills that could be considered is a measure to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authority is a part of an eight-bill slate teed up for votes this afternoon. A full list of those measures can be found here.